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Conversations with Lostboycrow: Believe in the Vision

Conversations with Lostboycrow, Indie Artists, Interviews, Photos, Uncategorized

April 23, 2018

This story is part of a series of Conversations with Lostboycrow, dedicated to following his path since I first spoke to him in August 2015 and into the future. Read all of the Conversations with Lostboycrow here.

As the first time interviewing Lostboycrow in person, we had the opportunity to work together on a photo shoot throughout downtown Houston. See more from the shoot at the end of the story. 


Images and words by Jenna Million.

In Houston, Texas, a few days into part two of his headlining tour Spin the Globe, I sat down with Lostboycrow for another conversation in our series to reflect on how his goals, and his intentions to reach those, have evolved.

The self-released, multi-million streamed artist has come a long way since moving to Los Angeles on his own in 2014. It wasn’t until he met Dylan William, producer and bassist in flor, and started recording that his pent-up creativity started to flow and Lostboycrow was born.

“Suddenly I could put out a song and people on the other side of the world wanted to write about it, even if it was just a few people,” he says. The step between a local artist and an internationally-streamed artist is “such a fine line but such a monumental gap.” Once he had jumped that gap, it was a matter of figuring out what comes next.

At the time, the early days were partly driven by figuring out his art and partly wanting to stay relevant with online publications. “That wasn’t something I was consciously thinking about, but subconsciously and sonically that came through.”

Now Lostboycrow says his work is focused on the question of “How can I dive deeper into me?”

To answer to this question, Lostboycrow set out to Santa Fe in early 2018 with a hand-selected team to work on the next record, with one rule. “I said at the very beginning… The whole point of this trip, even if we don’t finish one song, is just – what planet is Lostboycrow going to live on for this next cycle?”

All of the songs are very intentional, driven by the voice and lyrics rather than trendy production of the music industry. “If your goal is to be intentional in the way that you make art that will come across, despite demands for the consistency with the streaming world,” he says. To Lostboycrow, genuine intention and creativity comes through in songs “that wanted to be written,” rather than force-produced in a studio session.

While the smaller goals have changed from having songs written about, to being intentional with songwriting, the vision – the big end goal – is what drives all of the hard work. Lostboycrow says that those visions are very personal to him.

“I think we all have visions, especially when we open ourselves up to possibilities and to change,” he says. “I wasn’t a very great musician or singer, but I knew enough that I loved this more than anything. I knew I was going to do it, so that when I went through those time of not even [releasing] music… I still knew, because I’d seen it.”

Through our conversation, it’s obvious how important this is to Lostboycrow in the pursuit of his artistry. You have to believe it before you see it. That’s where people get it wrong, but not Lostboycrow.

“I think a lot of times people dismiss their visions as dreams or day dreams, or whatever label society wants to give them. It becomes very dismissive like it’s this fantastical thing that can’t happen. I never got that. I never got why people did that.”

Too often people tell themselves no, or place limitations on themselves, because they don’t believe some crazy visions could be their own reality.

“When you’re [telling yourself no,] you’re automatically comparing yourself. You’re thinking all these societal constraints… [like] ‘I’ve never seen a popstar break at 30 or 40 or 50 or 60,’ but guess what wouldn’t it be fucking cool if you were the first one?”

Lostboycrow says the “obstacles in your mind” present an opportunity to be a pioneer – to be the first popstar to break at 30 or 40 or 50 or 60.

“My word of encouragement to myself and maybe others is – everything negative thing you want to tell yourself about why you can’t do this is, is one reason why you could be the greatest at doing it. Do it despite those things.”

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Lostboycrow by Teren Mabry

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Conversations with Lostboycrow: Community and Purpose

Conversations with Lostboycrow, Indie Artists, Interviews, Uncategorized

May 24, 2017

This story is part of a series of Conversations with Lostboycrow, dedicated to following his path since I first spoke to him in August 2015 (read here) and into the future. Also read Feels Like Home TourA Brief History, and Real Name from the Conversations with Lostboycrow.

Community and Purpose

Photo by Teren Mabry. Words by Jenna Million.

On a rainy day in February, Lostboycrow says he had some time to reflect on what he’s been doing, and why he’s doing it. That day he posted a video on his Instagram story journaling his idea of community and purpose.

“I think anyone in life is always searching for their people and their community,” he says during a phone interview several weeks later.

As part of Pop Punk Please’s series, Conversations with Lostboycrow, I talked to him in depth about the idea of community, which people strive to be a part of, and purpose, which gives meaning to life.

“It’s about finding your people in life, and your passions are going to end up being your purpose,” he says. “I think a lot of people deny themselves that, but whatever you’re passionate about will guide you towards your purpose.”

Community and purpose are intertwined. When you find your community of friends, family or fans, they become your supporters. Their love and devotion becomes validation for your purpose.

He mentions that the industry tends to focus on record sales and touring. But at the end of the day, it’s the community of fans, and even other artists, that keep a musician going.

“Music is about friendship and encouragement. It’s about the Beach Boys trying to make an album even better, just as innovative as The Beatles and vice versa,” he says.

Music, in particular, creates deep-rooted communities. When you hear a song you identify with, it feels like there is an omnipotent force that resonates within your soul – there’s a spiritual quality, which Lostboycrow says he connects to.

“I was raised in church, but I always felt closer to whatever the idea of God was when I was listening to Eminem or Weezer up in my room,” Lostboycrow says of his personal relationship to music.

He sites My Chemical Romance and Blink-182 as bands that create a sense of community, and that feel like “a movement.” Twenty One Pilots, he says, brings this community and spirituality to life in a concert setting.

“That’s far more of a spiritual awakening or experience, so to speak, for kids, and you can tell cause they love it,” Lostboycrow says of Twenty One Pilots. “It’s beyond words, really.”

“If you think about what music is – manipulating frequencies – it’s like magic,” he says.

If music is made up of frequencies, and humans are made up of atoms vibrating at different frequencies, then Lostboycrow argues that music can affect how we feel.

“You’re essentially manipulating emotions by the music that you’re playing,” he says.“You’re creating these emotional scenarios that people can latch onto and relate to, even without words, and that’s why music is so powerful.”

That’s why you can hear a song in a different language and still feel an emotional effect, because you’re on the same wavelength, Lostboycrow remarks.

“It’s definitely the universal language,” he says. “It is God in a sense – whatever you believe God is. It’s how we all connect.”

As an artist contributing to this connection, he likens his music to a “symbiotic relationship between you and all the energies of people around you.”

“I have to open myself up to these moments of pure empathy when I can feel people around me or scenarios around me, or feel certain things that make my imagination run wild with what-ifs,” he says. “If you open yourself up to that level of sincerity and vulnerability in songwriting, then you’re just recycling that background to the people you’re drawing it from, and writing it for as well. So they’re going to latch onto it.”

Lostboycrow says songwriters start out writing songs to know that they’re not alone in their feelings.

“The bigger you get, even a few hundred followers on Souncloud or Twitter, [you realize] that you’re not alone in those feelings,” he says. “And then the people listening to you also [realize] that they’re not alone in the way that they see things.”

This is how community is formed. It’s a sense of belonging that validates your purpose. It all comes back to community and purpose.

Lostboycrow will be releasing the first Legend of his debut album Traveler on May 26th. Meanwhile, watch the stunning music video for “Devil’s in the Backseat.”

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Lostboycrow by Melanie Marsman

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Conversations with Lostboycrow: A Brief History

Conversations with Lostboycrow, Indie Artists, Interviews, New Music, Pop Artists

February 7, 2017

This story is part of a series of Conversations with Lostboycrow, dedicated to following his path since I first spoke to him in August 2015 (read here) and into the future. Read part one of Conversations with Lostboycrow: Feels Like Home Tour.

Words by Jenna Million. Photo by Melanie Marsman.

“I was this shiny new thing that people hadn’t really heard of or seen,” Lostboycrow says, referencing his popularity in 2015 on Hype Machine, an online chart for new music, based on blog popularity. Lostboycrow’s popularity used to come in the validation of hearts on Hype Machine, which can be a fickle endeavor. “People want to be the first ones writing about a new band. You can get a little too caught up in trying to make something for [blogs] or trying to make a story to keep their interest.”

Now he receives all the love he needs from fans on Spotify. A quick glance at his Spotify page shows nine million plays on “Powers,” with several other songs reaching the millions. “It’s almost like graduating,” he says. “We move from Hype Machine and now it’s Spotify and getting on these cool playlists. I’m really proud of the work I’ve done in the past few years.”

In the summer of 2015, Lostboycrow was a budding artist, distinguishable by his honey sweet vocals and effervescent synth lines. His songs were taking over the Hype Machine charts and were featured on indie blogs such as Hilly Dilly and The Burning Ear. Since then, he’s braved several tours, released his first extended play (EP), and traveled to Amsterdam to talk with a label.

Lostboycrow released his debut EP Sigh for Me, featuring “Powers,” in January 2016. This was the first packaged release for Lostboycrow after a career of singles. “It was exciting for me to finally make something that was supposed to be a group of songs, which is always what I’ve wanted to do and what I want to continue to do,” he says.

Sigh for Me was created in the summer prior as the brain child of Lostboycrow and producers Marø and Brian Morrison, whom he met through collaboration with another artist. “It was very clear that it was a project, a cohesive sort of story as well as sound, which is always great when those two can kind of align,” he says.

The EP itself is a story of passion, emotion and lust in a complicated relationship, driven by electronic soundscapes, fiery synthesizers, and thundering bass. While Lotboycrow’s singles stand very independent from one another, Sigh for Me is a smooth package, and dives farther into the electronic realm than his previous, pop-leaning work.

Sony Europe showed interest in Lostboycrow in the fall of 2016, which landed him in Amsterdam in November for a few showcases. While the trip led to a partnership with Epic Amsterdam for “Where It All Goes” and “Stay a Little Longer,” Lostboycrow says he will remain an independent artist moving forward.

Since the EP, Lostboycrow says he has been fortunate to work with a lot of great people, and now has a core team of producers in the studio who have seen him grow over the past couple years, namely Marø; Real Miilk, producer and sound designer; Dylan William, bassist and producer of flor; and Cody Tarpley, an artist under the same management.

“I only work with people that are going to entertain the complete madness of Lostboycrow and help bring me back down to this planet sometimes, but also just let me fly as high as I can,” he says. It’s inspiring to hear him talk about pushing boundaries in the midst of a music culture that makes it is easy for artists rise to radio popularity with cookie-cutter pop songs.

As a songwriter and storyteller, Lostboycrow is deeply in tune with his creative process. “I consider myself a vessel for all the energy that’s around us and all the stories that are kind of floating around us since the beginning of time,” Lostboycrow says. “And I feel like good songwriting and artmaking is being open enough to hear a song that’s there and wants to be found. I kind of just try to let if flow through me and see what happens.”

It’s hard to stay relevant when people consume music in singles and online streaming, but also demand more depth from artists. Spending hours in the studio over the past year, Lostboycrow is finding that depth in his music. He says, “It’s definitely pushed me into like ‘Okay, I’m an artist. I’m Lostboycrow. How do I show people that even more so?’”

In addition to “Verona,” which will be released on Feb. 10, Lostboycrow says listeners can expect many new releases through 2017. “This next year with the EPs and the album, you’re going to hear me at my most creative,” he says. “You’re still going to have really poppy melodies sometimes. You’re going to have stuff that sounds like rap. You’re going to have really awesome slippery amazing synths, but it’s going to be the most sincere version that anyone has seen of Lostboycrow yet.”

Stay tuned for the next part of Conversations with Lostboycrow.

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lostboycrow

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Conversations with Lostboycrow: Feels Like Home Tour

Concert Reviews, Conversations with Lostboycrow, Indie Artists, Interviews, Photos, Tours, Uncategorized

February 1, 2017

This is the first part of a series of conversations with Lostboycrow. I first spoke to him in 2015 (read here). This series is dedicated to following his path since then and into the future.

Words and photos by Jenna Million.

A cold night in early December, a small line forms outside of a dimly lit hole-in-the-wall venue in the heart of San Francisco. Inside is a surprisingly drafty bar with a small stage, home to many up-and-coming touring artists. The Feels Like Home tour featuring Lostboycrow and flor claimed that stage on December 6.

A shy but welcoming crowd watched at a safe distance when flor, Los Angeles-based alternative band and friends of Lostboycrow, took the stage for the first half of the co-headlining show. Flor serenaded the audience with soft energetic melodies and sugary synthesizer, brought to life by guitar solos and underlaid with sweet bass and percussion.

In the middle of the set, Lostboycrow joined flor on stage to perform “Still Standing Still,” a collaboration between the two artists that lends itself to the creativity behind both flor and Lostboycrow, becoming something entirely different than each artist’s sound. Lostboycrow says this tour was a long time coming for both artists.

“Lostboycrow was birthed so much around flor – them getting started and us bouncing ideas off of each other,” he says. “We’ve always kind of been side by side, even with the blogs and the hype and now with the next step as well.”

 

lostboycrow with flor

Lostboycrow performing “Still Standing Still” with flor in at Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco.

Based in Los Angeles, Lostboycrow says he’s been able to build a special, welcoming audience at his L.A. shows over the past few years, but has reached new audiences after touring for the first time with VÉRITÉ in May 2016.

Closing the night, Lostboycrow gave a heartfelt performance that showcased his talent and versatility as a singer. I was impressed to hear Lostboycrow had every deep, sultry croon and falsetto melody in the pocket. His electronic-heavy songs were well fitted to the live setting with a back up band adding support on guitar, keys and drums. Zach Grace, front man of flor, also joined Lostboycrow on stage for a unique acoustic rendition of Lostboycrow’s “The Lost Boy” and Coldplay’s “Warning Sign.”

Lostboycrow details the special experience of the Feels Like Home Tour:

Touring with your best friends is just exactly that. It was fun, incredibly productive, helpful, and so meaningful for me to be able to bring Zach up on stage every night, and for me to be able to walk up on that stage with them every night and sing and look back at my best friend in the world, [Kyle Hill] playing drums. We grew up in the suburbs of Portland, [Oregon] together and were in awful metal bands together. It was pretty surreal. To play to a packed out crowd in Portland and see people from way back in the day, it meant a lot… I feel very lucky to have done that and I hope it makes sense to do it again some day.

Lostboycrow says playing his music live has been as much of a journey as recording in the studio. He says, “It’s really cool to be surrounded by such incredible musicians… and take these songs that I love and pour myself into and be like ‘Okay how can we reimagine these and make these something to really behold live?’”

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wolffe

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Across the Pond: Q&A with Wolffe – “Shoot You Down” Music Video

Across the Pond, Indie Artists, Interviews, New Music, Pop Artists

August 21, 2015

(photo credit: Wolffe)

This post has been updated for the Across the Pond series. 

Wolffe’s powerful and sonorous voice tease listeners with sweet raspy melodies while also delivering a fierce, piercing chorus on her latest single “Shoot You Down.” The music video, shot in New York, is as haunting and mesmerizing as the song itself.

London-based artist Wolffe was discovered by her manager last year after a recording producer posted 10 second videos on Instagram of her singing in a studio session. Now singed to Rocket Music Entertainment Group, co-founded by Elton John, Wolffe is writing and recording music, and has already released her first music video, which she also co-directed, for “Shoot You Down.”  I caught up with Wolffe via email to discuss her inspirations and working on the music video. Read the interview below.

The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

How did you get your start in music? 

Last year I got found on Instagram by my management and since then I’ve been working with Rocket. Before that I was in a couple of different bands, writing a lot of band songs and doing a bit of touring. I started out writing. To be honest I never thought I was a singer until I was about 17 or 18 when I was like “why don’t I try singing this” and I guess it went from there. I moved to London, enrolled in art college, dropped out and continued grafting!

How would you describe your music? What inspires you?

Pop-noir. It’s dark indie dream-pop. I’m inspired by everything – films, books (I read a lot of books), men, love, my fear of death, my fascination with religion, stories people have told me. Anything. I find it hard to write happy songs which I’m learning to get over. Considering I’m one of the happiest people, I let all my sadness and anger out through my lyrics (is that cliche?).

What artists have influenced you?

Radiohead, Muse, James Blake, The Weeknd, FKA Twigs, Sly and the Family Stone, Edith Piaf, Miguel, Young Thug

How did you come up with the concept for the music video?

When I wrote the song, I had a very strong idea in my head about how I wanted it to be shot. I wanted it to be filmic and seedy and dark. I was so lucky to have a group of amazing friends in New York who shot, co-directed and acted in the film. Every location you see was either a friend’s bar or a friend’s bedroom, so it was all very close to home. We filmed on the coldest day of last year in December. I was in charge of whisky provision to keep morale high!

You make a cameo appearance in the music video. What was it like filming on set?

I did – only because I wanted to retain a filmic aspect to the video and let the story come out through the actors as opposed to playing the lead role. I really wanted to co-direct the video for “Shoot You Down” as I had such a strong idea of what I wanted. I was definitely happiest behind the camera, holding the whisky bottle.

What can listeners expect from you next?

Right now I’m locked up in the studio, lucky enough to be writing tracks with some really talented producers and writers. I’m working on an EP which I hope to have out in early Spring 2016. But there will definitely be more music arriving on my Soundcloud in the next two months, so you can follow me if you like “Shoot You Down!”

-W x

Stay social with Wolffe: Soundcloud | Twitter | InstagramFacebook

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lostboycrow

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Lostboycrow – The Boy With a Vision

Indie Artists, Interviews, New Music, Pop Artists, Uncategorized

August 18, 2015

Los Angeles solo artist Lostboycrow, who chooses to be identified as his artist name, dreams of one day performing on Saturday Night Live. “Personally I just want to make music, write songs and be known as a storyteller and a performer,” he says. Lostboycrow crafts a unique fusion of R&B and pop sounds with his soulful voice that stands out from the crowd, proving that he will be around for a while.

The identity of Lostboycrow is not a stage name or a front – the name holds bigger meaning. Talking on the phone with Lostboycrow, it is apparent that he draws influence from everything in his life, whether that’s his discovery of Journey as a high school freshman, his competitive athletic side or his roots growing up in the Pacific Northwest. “I think that’s why Lostboycrow has been able to go the farthest of any venture I’ve been a part of,” he says. “I feel like it’s just my identity. All of these things just kind of bleed together.” The passion in his voice is clear and driving, making it obvious that he believes whole-heartedly in Lostboycrow. The name itself sits close to his heart.

As a young boy traveling with his family, he began to connect with the story of the Crow Indians in Montana. “I would read stories about them and it almost felt like I was remembering things and learning about things,” Lostboycrow says. “It was a beautiful, untouchable explanation. I wanted to have a name that played homage to something bigger than myself, and yet something that was unique to me and my experiences.” Creating an identity for himself also created an identity for his music.

He says his art is unlike anything he’s done before. His first song “Adolescent,” released in December 2014, presents smooth vocal melodies accompanied by electronic pop elements and R&B undertones. Lostboycrow followed up a month later with “HiyHiy,” showing off more of his lyrical abilities that bring us lines such as “I’m the midnight ride, I’m that ancient pride that can never go away” and “I don’t believe you know what I can do / I’m a medicine man.” The song dares listeners to question his passion and serves as a clear indication that Lostboycrow is here to prove himself as a storyteller and an artist.

The songs quickly gained recognition with music blogs such as Hype Machine and Hilly Dilly. Lostboycrow has since released three more original songs, each more popular than the last. His music video for “Start Something” debuted on idolator. Lostboycrow says the response has been overwhelming in a positive way. “All in all it’s been really nice to read, but honestly it just makes you work harder,” he says.

 

Finding his identity was part of Lostboycrow’s journey, but moving to L.A. last year helped to bring out his art. He says he found his sound with direction from the right producers. (All songs have been produced by flor’s Dylan William.) “It felt for the first time like these songs had been in me my whole life. It was the right time, the right people, the right place and the right energy to bring them out of me,” Lostboycrow says. The move to L.A. was not just intentional but necessary.

Born in Portland, Oregon, Lostboycrow says he always knew he would move to California, even calling it his “long lost lover” in “Start Something.” In L.A., he has been fortunate to find a family of like-minded artists who have fostered his dreams. “When you work hard and have the right attitude and put a sincere foot forward, you’re going to attract people who also work hard,” he says. “It’s an unspoken community of artists and producers who are all coming up together. The people genuinely love each other’s music and support each other.”

As for the future, Lostboycrow says his goals come to him in visions. Listening to him discuss his wildest dreams with such passion and belief, it’s not hard to believe he’ll accomplish everything he sets out to do. A few of those dreams are performing for huge audiences and being known as a songwriter into his 70s. For now, Lostboycrow says fans can expect more music and a possible tour. “I’ve always had visions of going on to bigger shows and bigger things,” he says. “I have high hopes and I’ve always been the craziest dreamer. I don’t think I’d be even where I am now without that.”

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machineheart courtesy of Harper Smith

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Q&A: machineheart on L.A. life, festivals and dream collabs

Indie Artists, Interviews, Pop Artists, Rock Artists, Uncategorized

June 16, 2015

Photo courtesy of Harper Smith.

Riding high from “Circles'” success with 1.6 million plays on Spotify, machineheart’s vocalist Stevie Scott says it is just the tip of the iceberg for them. The band looks forward to touring and sharing an album later this year. On the way to start their summer tour, I chatted with Scott from Tucson, AZ.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. 

How did you get started in music?

We’ve all been doing music since we were kids pretty much. Carman and Trevor have been playing since they were teenagers, and then we met a couple years ago. I was doing another project and the boys were doing other various projects. When we met, we kind of clicked. I had never been in a band before.

Being from various backgrounds and working with different sounds, how did you collaborate to end up with machineheart’s sound?

That’s the beauty in a band, I think. People come together with different backgrounds and experience in music. I think that’s what really give machineheart its sound. I come from British-loving Anglophile kind of thing. I love very ethereal stuff. The boys come from Seattle and have that more rock ‘n’ roll front like Nirvana and Radiohead. Together it feels good and right and special. Someone actually recently referred to us as an intergalactic take on Fleetwood Mac, but I love that.

You guys are from L.A. That’s a place that has always been a culture capital for musicians. How do you like it?

Everyone there is creating. Everyone is doing something in the entertainment industry. I think it really inspires you and challenges you to really do your best, because there’s so many talented people – not in a competitive way to beat someone out to take their place. We always just try to compete with ourselves – try to have a better song, a better show than our last one.

With so many indie and alternative bands coming up right now. How do you differentiate yourselves?

We didn’t start with the idea that we wanted to sound a certain way, like “we have to be this alternative band.” I think that’s where we find a lot of freedom for ourselves. We didn’t have any requirements of what we were going to be. We just tried it out and it worked. We really liked that. Obviously with everyone having put in years of hard work, when we came together it was so easy.

Are there any artists you would ever like to collaborate or tour with?

Oh my gosh, yeah. I think everyone definitely has a dream list of who they would like to collaborate with. There’s the iconic ones, for me, like Stevie Nicks or Kate Bush or the musical artists that everyone looks up to. The boys love Dave Grohl. I mean the list goes on and on. That’s a good question. I’ll have to think about that.

You were just in Austin, TX for South By Southwest. How was it?

That was our first show in Texas. We had such a blast. We were talking about L.A. being a creative mecca. I think Austin is creative. There are so many talented people trying to get their music out there. We are grateful to be doing what we’re doing. There are hundreds of people just as talented as us or as passionate as us that are wanting to be doing what we’re doing. We are very thankful.

Machineheart just played Bunbury and you have Summerfest and Fashion Meets Music Fest coming up. Festivals are a different environment than touring. Do you prefer one or the other?

Festival are so fun and laid back because you play once in the day and then you’re done. You get to hang out with other friends or bands or bands you’re fans of. We get to listen to great music. I love the festival environment. There’s also fashion and all of the people there are so hungry to be inspired or to inspire. We definitely love festivals.

Is live performance an important aspect for you as a musician?

That’s probably what we consider our strong suit – more because of the energy we experience on stage and that exchange between the audience and us. It’s so special. It’s not how it used to be where everyone would go to shows constantly, but it’s a little more rare. So when fans come out to shows we want to give them an experience they won’t forget. It’s really magical. It’s not just a one way conversation but we really do feed off the energy. Fans singing those songs back to us is just as important. It’s more of a dialogue [than a monologue].

Do you have an albums in the works right now?

We do have an album in the works. It’s actually done. We just got out of the studio. It should be released sometime later this year. We’re very excited about that actually because we’ve only released “Circles” up to this point. We love playing and connecting with our fans but people are really going to be able to dig in so much more with the album and get a better taste for who we are. “Circles” is just the tip of the iceberg for us.

I personally can’t stop listening to “Circles.” It was at the top of the Hype Machine charts and it was on Spotify’s U.S. Viral 50 playlist. Did you expect that kind of reaction?

No. It’s just so exciting when something connects with people. Obviously that’s what we hope for as a band. That’s why we do this. It’s really cool to see it happen. It’s kind of fun too to watch the little number count go up online. To see numbers and actually be able to equate that to people now when we play shows and people are singing along with us, that’s when for us it really hits home.

Catch machineheart on tour this summer with Vinyl Theatre.

CHPtXoSWQAEMeri

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Flor

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flor – A New Wave of Music and Art

Indie Artists, Interviews, New Music, Photos, Uncategorized

April 11, 2015

Flor, stylized flor, is a project that is bigger than any one of its four members. To label each member as only a singer or bassist would undermine them as creative individuals. Flor is Zach Grace, Dylan William, McKinley Kitts and Kyle Hill. When they come together as Flor, they are artists.

A year ago Grace began to play around with a computer program in his free time, creating random synth sounds he says he never thought would work in a band environment. But William found that he could build tracks around it. And it worked. “I find a synth line that I’m really into, that works really well with some weird chords, and then if everything is going perfectly, the melody just kind of, like, floats on top of it all,” says Grace. He comes up with vocal melodies, singing random sounds as placeholders for lyrics. With the combination of the synth phrases and vocal melodies, William pieces together the songs. It’s an idea so crazy that it almost shouldn’t work, but it somehow does. The two channel percussion and guitar sounds, transforming chaos into music. “And we started getting these new batches of songs that were unlike anything we’ve ever done,” says Kitts. “But it was so cool, and it had something special to it.” For once, says Kitts, it felt like they were doing something right. They found their sound – not a sound that fit into any genre, or a sound that anyone was telling them to be. “We feel like we’re part of this wave, this new generation of music,” says Kitts. He calls it an energetic, young, new way of 80s synthesizer-inspired music. Grace says it’s an optimistic outlook on music.

And they’re not alone. The band sites artists like Halsey and Years & Years who are on the same wave with them. While they all draw inspiration from the same place, they interpret it differently. “The sound made sense for everyone, but it’s all independent,” says Kitts. As music started coming out this year they realized they fit right in. “It… feels comfortable and, like, not too derivative of itself. But it still… fits together,” says Kitts.

Last year, after struggling to find that sound with a different project, the four boys from Hood River, Oregon took a leap of faith and moved to Los Angeles, California. Grace thought he’d hate the move, being from such a small town, but he knew it was right for the band. “Everything just kind of worked out,” says Grace. “We found the right people. We connected on a deep level within ourselves and within these… new groups of people.” The change in location brought about new revelations for them. “I think it’s a big part of realizing it’s not necessarily where you are, but who you’re with and we kind of found a family down there,” says Kitts. Musically, he says, it changed everything. William found his niche as a producer, working with Halsey and other artists. Even more than that, Flor probably would not have happened if they hadn’t move to L.A. “[L.A.] was like the mother to our father (Oregon) that gave birth to Flor,” says Kitts.

FlorBut Flor is not just a band. Expressing their emotion in sonic and visual art, Flor molds the two to become synonymous. “It’s important for us to have a cohesive image that compliments itself musically and visually,” says Grace. Grace’s life is like a color palette, says Kitts. Grace laughs along and explains that he writes the best songs when there is a visual compliment to it, as if he were writing music to narrate a story in his head. It doesn’t always work that easily, but when the art pushes the story, and it’s stimulating, he knows he’s doing it right. “We want things that kind of assault you in a way, but also work with the music,” says Grace. As Grace talks, I can see the wheels spinning in his head, like he is full of ideas that beg to be expressed in the art.

In July 2014, before any of their songs were released, Flor started to post 3D visuals with music snippets on their Instagram account, and continued to do so for several months. The band collaborated with Jade Ehlers, a photographer and designer they met after moving to L.A., to create the visuals that accompanied the music ideas. Fast forward four months to November. Flor released their first song “Heart” on SoundCloud. It was something different. And the first time I heard it, I wasn’t sure what I thought of it. Poignant, hammering synth opens with Grace’s sing-song voice. Each verse is stripped back for a smooth and resonate vocal delivery. The choruses open into a syncopated wall of sound, of instrumentals and synth. With such a complete sound, it is hard to believe the song started off as fragments of synth ideas.

Since February, the band has added three more songs to SoundCloud, completing an EP. And more recently, they’ve had the chance to play a handful of live shows. Producing the sound live has been a challenge since playing the synth lines live would entail more serious equipment and manpower. For now, the band figured out a way to play all of the instruments and vocals live, while the synth track plays with them on a computer program. And it translates well in the live setting. The indie rock influence stands out, something I missed on their recordings, and brings the songs to life. “Every time we play, we are getting more in line with where we want to be,” says Grace. “We have huge dreams with what we can be doing.” It can be frustrating to set the bar so high, says Kitts. Being held back technologically and monetarily forces them to focus on perfecting their live performance. And while opening the show doesn’t warrant a great display of lights, they hope to someday have illuminating visual projections to bring home the art that is synonymous with their songs. “We want it all to be tied in with this one burst of art when we play,” says Kitts.

More than that, Flor is searching for their community of like-minded individuals. Grace dreams of a family-like environment where people can connect with the stories and art. “I’d like people to be able to connect with our songs, and feel with our songs,” says Grace. And not just as a fan, but be a part of something bigger. “[It’s] more than just, like, music. [It’s] like a living, breathing organism that we can all… be a part of,” says Kitts. “It sounds a little weird.” Sitting on the dimly lit stone steps of Stubb’s outdoor amphitheater, with live music droning in the background, it does sound a little weird. But listening to Grace and Kitts talk about their dreams is refreshing. The passion in their voices is clear and piercing. It’s apparent that they wholeheartedly believe in every word they say, and it makes you want to believe in them, too. Hearing them talk about their dreams feels a little less weird and a little more real. I can tell Grace views his goal as far off in the future, but finding a close-knit network may happen sooner than he thinks. They’ve already found it in L.A. – the group of friends, family even, supporting each other’s creative endeavors. They come to the shows and each time there are a few more people, says Kitts. It’s growing organically.

Online they hope to reach people through social media. The numbers of plays on SoundCloud show that there is someone out there who cares, and probably more than just someone. “That means people somewhere are connecting to the music,” says Kitts. “And that’s kind of all we can ask for.” With Flor being about more than the music, they have to maintain a certain image on social media. “I guess it’s important to guard that aesthetic, cause we don’t want it to lose that magic,” says Kitts. “Cause that’s what music is– it’s magic. And people that get the music and really relate to it– I think magical is really the only word to… describe that feeling when you connect with music and connect with other people.” Hopefully their magic is strong enough to foster a community where people can go and not be distracted by the ephemeral things. “When you go to Flor world, you’re there,” says Grace.

See all photos on Flickr.

Follow Flor:  Website | SoundCloud | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

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Vinyl Theatre

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Vinyl Theatre – Passion Drives Dreams

Interviews, Photos, Pop Punk Artists, Uncategorized

April 4, 2015

See all photos from the show on flickr.

I arrive at The Parish on a warm Tuesday evening. It’s always weird to see 6th St. not overrun with massive crowds of partygoers, but even with the street empty, there is already a line at the venue of eager fans waiting for the show.

I meet their manager in the back alley and we go into the venue through the back door. Vinyl Theatre is hanging out in a small lounge area with food and drinks. The manager introduces me to the guys and singer Keegan Calmes offers me a water bottle before we sit down and start talking. The guys mention how much they love Austin, as it’s their second time here. The first time was with twenty one pilots, but this time around they’re on tour with Magic Man.

I dive into the interview with the four-piece band. Hailing from Milwaukee, WI, singer and guitarist Keegan Calmes, keyboardist Chris Senner, bassist Josh Pothier and drummer Nick Cesarz knew each other growing up and many of them played instruments from a young age, but they officially formed the band in 2012.

They explain how they first found exposure on the Internet. Says Cesarz, he had the idea to release singles on SoundCloud, a music-streaming platform, over a period of weeks, allowing for each song to trend from continuous plays. “Almost unexpectedly we, like, cracked the algorithm,” says Calmes. Not only did the SoundCloud tactic cater to Vinyl Theatre’s online fan base, but it allowed them to reach new listeners from their songs trending on the site.

Around the same time, Fueled By Ramen expressed interest in the band and flew out to see Vinyl Theatre play in Cesarz’s parent’s basement. “We were just scared out of our minds,” says Pothier. “It’s the place we practiced for years and then these hot-shot record label people were just sitting there in front of our practice space just listening to us.” With a lot riding on this one performance, they say they could see their fate in front of them. “We kind of knew after that meeting that this could be it,” says Calmes. “It was kind of exciting and terrifying at the same time.” It’s a huge milestone for anyone to be signed to a label with artists like FUN. and Paramore. But Vinyl Theatre didn’t get there over night.

Their initial set up was unconventional, to say the least. With Senner and Cesarz going to college in Wisconsin and Calmes in Colorado, the three wrote over Skype and sent each other song files that each would contribute to separately. “I’d have no say in what happens with the drums,” says Calmes. “It would just come back with a full drum track done, which was cool ‘cause it was always a surprise.” Sometimes that was it, and sometimes they went back to the drawing board. They made the long distance work but knew it couldn’t stay that way if the band got serious. In the back of their minds they were prepared to pick up and leave everything to dedicate their pursuits to the music. “Eventually, the passion between the three of us became so strong for the songs that we started to believe in them and believe in each other that we’d all quit,” says Calmes. The guys all nod in agreement, each reflecting on their personal experience and the unspoken pact that Calmes says bonded them. And the pact ultimately led to where they are today.

With the addition of Pothier, and Calmes moving back to Milwaukee, the writing process also became more seamless. “We started to write with that whole one-minded feeling of, you know, everybody spellchecks for everybody else, and we give each other great ideas,” says Calmes. After signing with Fueled By Ramen in 2014, the band returned to the studio to record Electrogram, their first full-length album. Coming in with more experience, the band was able to give more attention to the songs, creating what they noted as a more mature and intricate sound.

The four each bring different musical tastes and influences to the table from The Killers to Blink-182 to electronic dance music. They all learn from each other and are able to craft their electronic pop-punk sound. Their sound defies genres, fitting more along the lines of twenty one pilots, a new wave of punk and electronic infused rock. “Our feeling of creating something original in a world full of noise is really tough,” says Calmes. “You just kind of find solace in the fact that whatever you do make, you share it with a unique group of people.”

Electrogram is representative of the band ­– it tells the story of their bond and their passion for music, something they hope to share with fans. “We want people to get excited about life and their passion, cause so many people will chase after something half-heartedly, and… we always feel like you should go all in,” says Calmes. Clames says the band would not have felt true to themselves if they didn’t stop everything else to make Vinyl Theatre their focus.

As a band that hadn’t done much true touring, opening for twenty one pilot’s Quiet Is Violent tour in 2014 was a big accomplishment. “We couldn’t have asked for a better tour to be part of right off the bat,” says Senner. “They treated us, just, extremely well.” And not just as friends, but as touring professionals. It came with a bit of a learning curve, but they were helped by twenty one pilots’ band and crew who taught them how to interact with people at venues and on tour, and to always be efficient, on time and courteous. At the end of the day, they’re there to put on a show for the fans.

Wrapping up the interview, I look forward to the show that night. An hour later Vinyl Theatre takes the stage with smiles and an energy they like to call their own. While touring will give them the experience they need to fine-tune their performance and channel their energy to reach the crowd, I look forward to hearing how their sound will be presented in new music. For now, Vinyl Theatre has an upcoming tour with Smallpools and a few radio shows on the calendar. The guys say they have a lot of new material to narrow down and look forward to a headlining tour in the future.

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